Plan Holiday Season Sales with Project Management Tools
As the holiday season is upon us, it’s time to start preparing for the most challenging time of the year. The holidays bring a rapid influx of business to not only big industry players but also small, emerging brands. As a rule, smaller brands will be under heavier stress. This is primarily due to the small market size that they work with, which makes each customer they bring in and retain more meaningful. The holiday season sales are an important time for brands of every size to connect with and impress their customers.
Small brand, big results
Ironically, while having a small number of customers is a disadvantage, it can also be considered as an ace up the sleeve if you approach the matter correctly. Giants like Amazon have so many orders to take care of and prepare that they simply cannot offer a highly personalized shopping experience to consumers on the individual level.
Emerging brands, on the other hand, have more time to spare. They can dedicate a lot more effort to every single website visitor to maximize customer satisfaction, ensure that clients return, and maybe even bring friends if you incentivize them. For instance, affiliate marketing programs are an excellent way to do this. When you’re just starting, every sale matters and rewarding customers for facilitating those sales is a great idea. In fact, 81% of brands currently utilize affiliate marketing in their strategies.
The trick to over-performing the big guys lies in providing next level, exceptional customer service. It’s important to have on-time deliveries, free shipping and returns, and basically going out of your way to please and impress your visitors. 82% of customers leave and never return after a poor shopping experience. You don’t want to end up on that list.
Project management for holiday season sales
Every sales matters. Therefore, you need to make sure you’re following a clear, concise action plan to maximize your holiday season sales. Dotcom Distribution, a leading B2B and B2C fulfillment and logistics services company, has recently surveyed 125 e-commerce professionals, asking them to evaluate their performance in all the key areas.
Here are the most notable finds:
- 30% of participating e-commerce brands received more customer service calls during the peak holiday season in 2017, compared to last year.
- Less than a third of respondents achieved 100% order accuracy.
- Only about 23% of respondents noted that 100% of their orders shipped completely.
- Brands listed delays as one of their most significant issues of the past holiday season.
After analyzing all the responses, Dotcomdist concluded that the vast majority of problems are directly linked to poor project management utilization. Time management, struggling to manage a large influx of orders, placing wrong priorities, and task completion inaccuracy are the top facilitators of errors.
Let’s see how exactly project management methods can help negate all of those factors and increase holiday season sales.
Planning for the worst case scenario
Every e-commerce brand needs to have a precise action plan regarding handling crisis situations such as incorrect deliveries. A single incorrect order can lead to a lot of negative consequences. It can reduce customer retention, generate a negative online reputation, and poor reviews. All of this ultimately leads to lost sales and more work to correct errors that could have been prevented from the start.
While creating service-level agreements (SLAs) with logistics companies is common, it’s important to stay organized to keep everything running smoothly. In case errors do happen, the first step is to respond to the customers ASAP. Let them know that their problems are being worked on. The second one is to solve the problem efficiently. This can be achieved in various ways depending on the business.
For example, you could have an agreement with another logistics company specifically for the holiday season and send the correct item to the client right after receiving the request. Also, including a small gift like a discount as an apology can go a long way. Such situations are best handled when there is a pre-developed action plan. Your team can proceed right to implementation without having first to figure out what to do.
Solving customer issues
During the peak holiday season sales, a large influx of orders naturally brings a more considerable amount of requests and concerns. While many businesses see this as a risk, it’s actually an excellent opportunity to impress with the quality of your service. Experience has proven that most customers will praise you for your efforts and voice their positive experiences, resulting in a lot of free positive publicity for your brand.
However, to solve the issue quickly, you need to have a clear path for each case. Once the issue is clear, it’s important to delegate the task to the appropriate team member, who can fully satisfy the customer’s inquiry. It is also important to minimize the time and number of communications needed to resolve the issue.
Keeping customers informed about their orders
Keeping customers updated on essential milestones like delivery times, successful payment processing, and shipping notifications are critical aspect of e-commerce. Especially during the holiday season sales, people are eager to receive their items as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Project management software like Monday and Wrike can help you create email workflows, which will automatically notify certain groups of customers whenever an update about their purchase is available. This way, you’ll not only improve customer satisfaction but also save a lot of time.
Out of this world customer service
Giving the customer an easy way to reach out to your brand is essential for success. While emails and phone calls are okay, they are very limiting from both the business’s and clients’ perspectives. Handling an overwhelming number of emails and talking to multiple customers on the phone simultaneously quickly becomes inefficient due to the sheers numbers of requests. From the consumer perspective, emails aren’t as fast as you’d like them to be. Clients can wait in a long queue when calling, and it may even intimidating for clients with poor English.
This is where live chat shines.
Project management tools like Glip can be easily integrated with live chat software. Your team can respond to customers quickly without having to switch between multiple apps. This also helps delegate requests to appropriate team members much quicker.
Staying on top of deliveries
Since timely and correct shipping is important for customers, it’s critical to perfect the deliveries from every possible angle. An organized task list is crucial to making sure that each person receives their item by the date you stated. While all orders are equal and should go through the same process, that’s realistically almost never the case.
In case your website offers multiple delivery options, promo codes, or expedited shipping, things get much messier. You’ll have to implement proper prioritization techniques based on many factors. Trying to keep it all under control will be just a little short of impossible without software.
Most project management tools feature great interface solutions. These features allow users to visualize tasks and split them into groups depending on any number of factors. Also, prioritizing tasks and making sure they are completed on time will help maximize customer satisfaction and identify and solve issues before they escalate.
Remember, the key to increasing holiday season sales primarily lies in your ability to minimize profit losses from existing orders and offer superior service to current clients. In fact, this is even more important than trying to get as many customers on board as possible.
The holiday season can, and should, be approached as one big project. While peak holiday season sales will inevitably cause issues for brands, they are all preventable. With the combined power of resource, time and crisis management, and the added utility of project management tools, e-commerce brands can prepare for anything during this stressful time of the year.